Earlier this month, CommerceTel, a provider of mobile marketing solutions, announced that the Miami Dolphins increased its subscriber base 300% over the last year by launching several mobile features such as news, scores and promotions. These innovative features, which sadly did not include a franchise quarterback, were used in campaigns (text-to-win and mobile messaging generally) designed to drive fans to the mobile channel thereby increasing the value of sponsorships and ads.
NFL franchises, more than any other professional sports league, seem to be placing a premium on driving growth by leveraging technology to increase fan interaction. Consider the Dallas Cowboys, whose Cowboys Stadium, which opened in 2009, is arguably the most teched-out stadium in the NFL. A lot of ink has been devoted to the big screen in the middle of the field, but Cowboys Stadium also has free Wi-Fi, which allows the NFL to push apps for in-stadium use. For instance, during the 2011 Super Bowl, the NFL allowed fans to bring their iPad into the stadium (provided they got in and found a seat) debuted an official Super Bowl app, which provided a 3D tour of the stadium and a facilities guide (read: beer and restrooms).
Not to be outdone on the technological front, the San Francisco 49ers announced on Feb. 10 former YouTube and Facebook CFO Gideon Yu as team president. Yu will help oversee the development of the 49ers’s new stadium in Santa Clara, Calif. As befits the Silicon Valley location, Yu anticipates the new stadium will also be heavy on tech. In a Feb. 26 interview with Mercury News columnist Tim Kawakami, Yu laid out the vision he is tasked to make real: “If we do it right, (team CEO) Jed (York)’s vision right now on the technology is to make sure the tech experience, the ability to multi-task, the ability to use mobile phones, the ability to have (a) home experience (at the stadium), different camera angles, different audio feeds, different data feeds… there’s no reason we shouldn’t be able to offer you that and more at the new stadium, in addition to watching what’s on the field with 70,000 other fans.”
Pushing content, or making content easily available, is smart for a number of reasons. For teams that have struggled in recent seasons, it can help maintain fan interest—everyone singing songs on the same sinking ship. And because the home viewing experience has improved exponentially (everyone has a high-def television, a surround-sound setup, and a comfortable couch), a wired sports venue enhances the stadium experience and can help plant butts in those very expensive seats. Not to mention all the sources of ad revenue that comes with the viewership.